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Diversity In Action

Turner reaches out through its programming

Diversity enriches program content, so the cable giant is working to increase the pool for jobs in technology, including EEs, MEs, CEs and developers

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Loretta Walker: plenty of interesting opportunities for techies at Turner.

Loretta Walker: plenty of interesting opportunities for techies at Turner.

Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc (TBS) firmly believes that a diverse workforce tends to enrich programming content. So directors of each business unit at Turner are asked to ensure that diversity is incorporated in all their operations, says Loretta Walker, senior VP of HR.

Turner doesn't need a specific diversity director, Walker notes, because the corporate culture insists that all employees keep diversity at the top of their priority lists.

"I want people to understand that our programming, our content and how we deliver it is our community outreach," she declares. "It's the work environment that we created."

For example, a VP of multicultural market development reports to the president of the entertainment division. Her role is to partner with the entertainment networks to examine how Turner markets its entertainment shows to the diverse market.

On the news side, a diversity council studies how CNN delivers the news and whether the various network anchors are representative of diverse populations and interests.

Right now TBS is focusing on significantly increasing its pool of candidates for positions in technology.

Of 8,000+ worldwide employees, 2,000 fill technical jobs, and the company needs both experienced pros and new college grads.

To recruit diverse candidates, Turner attends career fairs sponsored by SHPE, SWE, NSBE and more. It also has an ongoing relationship with North Atlanta Agricultural & Technical State University (Atlanta, GA), an HBCU.

Turner is also interested in recruiting more women, so it's established a relationship with the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA). Georgia Tech has a large population of women techies of its own, plus a co-op program with nearby Spellman College which brings in more diverse technical women.

Turner also works with the Walter Kaitz Foundation and the Emma Bowen Foundation, both of which focus on bringing more minorities into the cable industry.

Another Turner program is directed at diverse young techies who are recent college grads. Participants are put through nine months of on-the-job training, and although they are not guaranteed a job, many do get offers, Walker says.

There are plenty of interesting opportunities for techies at Turner. The corporation employs electrical, mechanical and civil engineers as well as developers and programmers. Most of the tech staff work in Atlanta, with some in New York, London and Hong Kong.

All standard IT business is done in-house, and a Web development group handles products delivered directly to the consumer.

CNN Pipeline is one of the news-based products, and GameTap is an entertainment-based gaming product. "Emerging platforms are a critical focus for our business," Walker says.

Turner folks also build infrastructure uplink and downlink centers, and help get signals to satellites.

There's an R&D; department just three years old which is essentially an internal lab to test new technologies. The most promising are passed along to the new products group for further development, and finally rolled into the appropriate business unit. "It's a way to grow the business beyond our linear networks," Walker explains.

Turner has network affinity groups for women, African Americans, Hispanics and GLBT folks. It also offers domestic partner benefits.

There's even an industry-friendly childcare facility in Atlanta. Designed for kids from six weeks to five years old, it has the extended hours you need in the media industry, and can care for not-too-sick children. Eight weeks of maternity leave are available, as well as flexible work hours and eldercare options.

Tuition aid is available to keep techies current in their work and diversity training is offered through Turner's professional development center.

"We're facing the same challenges everybody else does, and we have all the programs that are recommended from a best-practices standpoint," Walker concludes.


Wright Express
Turner Broadcasting System Inc

Headquarters: Atlanta, GA
Employees: 8,000+
Business: Media


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